Friday, November 23, 2007

How One is Magically Transformed

from Human Being to Psychiatric Patient
By Patricia Lefave, Labelled, D.D.(P)

This is out of my own experience as a ‘patient’ and reflects how I went from being a person to a Paranoid Delusional Disorder. My label of course was applied by the psychiatrist I got on that particular fateful day. Had I seen a different one, it is just as likely that I could have been labelled with something else such as: the schizophrenic or bi-polar or schizoid or borderline personality disorder etc. The label is only secondary to the procedure used to apply it which I have learned is basically the same for most of us. It is a very fast assessment of abstract thought connected to nothing concrete or evidential. I thought I was speaking of concrete events since from my point of view, I was, but to the doctor I was only making paranoid noises about ideas he had heard before and ‘knew’ to be a production of bad brain chemistry. So briefly, let me tell you how it gets done and then you as the reader can get an idea about what to expect should you ever be in a similar position. At least if you know, it won’t be as much of a shock to you, as it was to me and to others like me.
The procedure goes something like this:

Someone (family member, co-worker, school teacher or fellow student etc) decides YOU don’t understand the reality of your own life experience as well as he or she does. Often, he or she has something to hide about themselves in their relationship to you that they want to keep hidden, and he or she fears you may know about it. So, it may be as a means of distraction that he or she suggests that you are the ‘crazy’ one and don’t make any sense at all. Having suggested that to others, (usually covertly) those others begin to look for signs of madness in you and having it suggested that they should see them, the next thing you know they start to find just what they were told they should look for.
Meanwhile, you start to get some very strange feedback from some people that doesn’t seem to make any sense. Perhaps you even TELL them something is not making any sense here. What you don’t know of course is that they have already been TOLD that you are ‘having trouble making sense of things.’ Now then, you are ‘admitting’ to that. Here are some obvious ‘signs’ then and these ‘signs’ encourage those who are looking for ‘signs’ look for more ‘signs.’

As you get more confused by what is going on and because you can’t get a straight answer from anyone involved, (one does not talk directly to the mentally ill after all) it may then be suggested that you should talk to someone like a psychiatrist for some help. You may even agree to do that since by then you really do want to try to make some sense of what is happening around you. Little do you know you are being drawn into the system by ‘admitting’ the things you have ‘admitted’ to be troubling you.

The psychiatrist you see has already been told ‘covertly’ by your friends or relatives that you are behaving ‘strangely’ as reported to them by your protagonist and those who have been directed to see the ‘lack of sense’ in you and only in you. They are not seeing your reactions as appropriate, or as a response to their strange or suspicious behaviour towards you, since they are sure you are unaware of them. Having been primed for this with information you know nothing about and which your protagonist will not share openly with you, the psychiatrist then looks for the signs and symbols he is told he should expect to see and sure enough, there you are talking about your ‘confusion’ and your inability to make sense of the behaviour of the people around you. ‘Ah ha!’, says the psychiatrist to himself (since he does not communicate openly at any time with you.

Now this process usually gets drawn out a bit but basically, you get the idea here. After ‘denying’ you are ‘sick’ and ‘resisting’ the treatment for the ‘disease’ you ‘claim’ you don’t have, you prove by your failure to ‘comply’ with other people’s ideas of who you are that you are indeed ‘mentally ill’ since all this resistance, denial and ongoing attempts to ‘manipulate’ the doctor away from this nonsense will only add to the validity of the diagnosis. As you go through this it may even dawn on you that it is reality that is being psychiatrized but the expert who assesses you doesn’t believe that for a minute since he has been trained not to accept anything you say as real or at face value. If you start to laugh at the absurdity of all of this and perhaps even suggest that the thinking processes of psychiatry itself are ‘out to lunch’ (let’s say) that TOO has also been covered in advance of your growing awareness as another sign of YOUR sickness. For many a nut has tried to ‘claim’ that there is something wrong with the reasoning of psychiatrists. So has the laughter already been defined as a part of your ‘illness.’ You will be said to be ‘laughing for no reason.’ ‘Laughing for no reason’ is another sign. Everything is a sign once you have walked through the psychiatrist’s door. Signs and symbols of madness are everywhere in this mental illness system as you are about to discover for yourself; well everywhere EXCEPT in those who are running the system of course, There rarely if ever seems to be any ‘signs’ found there, not matter how obvious they may be to ‘outsiders.’ Of course, you don’t know that until after you have the experience and by then it is already too late isn’t it?

You will now be given a psychiatric disease label which will reduce your life to pathological parameters and get you into a position to be kept under ‘control.’ This will be said to be ‘for your own good.’ If you don’t know what is’ for your own good,’ that will not be a surprise to anyone since NOT knowing what is’ for your own good’ is also defined as being a part of your ‘disease process.’ (We ‘nuts’ are all incredibly stupid you know. If you don’t believe me you could just ask many of the psychiatric hospital staff who have been calling me stupid from a few feet away for many years. If I ‘think’ I am aware of that, well I am just ‘imagining’ things.)

Now once you have been labelled there is no escape possible. Using logic won’t help you, nor will all those now to be presumed to be ‘inappropriate affects’ you will display as the reality of your situation hits you full force. You no longer have any legitimate feelings; you only have ‘affects.’ I could advise you not to show any negative feelings (or even any feelings that may be ‘too up’ , however, if you don’t show any feelings at ALL, that too will be another sign of what is wrong with you known as ‘flat affect.’ So you need to be aware of that also. So remember now, don’t get yourself into a position where you might get assessed as ‘manicky’ either. “Manicky’ can be anything that seems like normal good humour or mood in any other setting in which people behave the same way but are not labelled with anything. These are pretty fine distinctions so you are going to have to educate yourself about it as they are very hard to see unless you understand that it has more to do with the setting in which the behaviour takes place than it does with the behaviour itself. As you enter the institution the line from Dante’s Inferno applies here: “Abandon all hope ye who enter here.” It is also the line over the entrance archway at Bedlam Asylum. In a way that is good advice for if you think what you say is going to be heard you are making a mistake and have ‘unrealistic expectations,’ of others. Always remember that ‘others’ as an abstraction also, can’t be ‘blamed.’ Only you can be blamed but it will not be CALLED ‘blaming others’ when they are blaming you. That is because it will be named something else like a ‘manifestation of your disease process’ so really, you can’t help it as it isn’t ‘real.’ It actually becomes pretty amazing how the ‘signs’ and symbols of your reality become Zen-like. Eventually you will say to yourself, Oh, so they all believe that the truth is ‘madness’ and that their alternate reality created to replace the truth is sanity…” (But don’t tell them you know that since that TOO will be another sign in you as many of us have seen the same thing and since we are the labelled people and they aren’t, the assumption is that we see the same thing because we are crazy. (This common perception of what is happening is also a ‘sign’ of how crazy we are and ‘proves’ that we have this ‘disease’ which causes us all to ‘think’ we are having a similar experience. )

The other assumption is that they do NOT see it, because they are the ‘sane’ ones and they believe there is nothing to see. (It is kind of like trying to tell the heads of the church that the earth actually revolved around the sun when they were all CERTAIN, and experts about such things, and they just KNEW the sun revolved around the earth. They took it all on faith and since keeping the faith is the end goal, to question the tenets of the faith is to be proved a heretic. Are you feeling a little dizzy trying to figure this out and perhaps a little nauseated by the endlessly circular arguments? Well don’t say that either since most of us do, and that is already written in the Psychiatric Bible as more of the signs of our illness. By now, you should be getting the idea that no matter what you can come up with in trying to talk to these s experts, it has already been covered in advance as proof they are right. You will notice there is almost an exclusive focus on what is wrong with YOU and there is no two way communication taking place. That is because you are the ‘object’ of observation and you are not been seen as an equal human being. They do not believe this has anything to do with events or relationships but is some genetic or chemical problem contained strictly within you. The doctors have also been taught they cannot relate to you as an equal and those who are considered to be the best psychiatrists never make the ‘mistake’ of trying to do that. Those who do, generally get pushed out of the public system, and sometimes pushed out of the specialty while they are still training in it. They are considered to be unsuitable candidates. This is the kind of thinking you are going to be up against and they will not even look at any evidence once they have spent the obligatory ten to fifteen minutes listening to your ‘noises’ and finding just the right label to get you under control.

Now everything you say or do from this point on is going to be an exercise in futility since all your logical arguments and reactions have already been written in the Dark Secrets of Metaphysics identified as ‘signs’ which are only going to ‘prove’ how right your doctor is to see and hear you the way he does. If you are eventually driven into psychosis by the non stop stress and pressure you are going to be placed under, and by the shocking realization of the situation you are actually trapped within, that TOO will only serve to prove that psychiatry is right in the first place. This will now be defined as a ‘psychotic episode’ inside the parameters of that ‘disease process’ you still resist accepting and continue to deny you have despite psychiatry’s best efforts to talk you into it. Clearly you are one of the non compliant types (such as myself) and you will likely cause you doctor to indulge in quite a lot of frustrated sighing and consulting with others about how to get YOU to face ‘reality.’ (the one he decides will now exist for you)

Since the doctor is trained never to take anything you say at face value, that is going to mean that if you want him to hear what you are saying, you are going to have to come up with some interesting metaphors for him so that he can look for the ‘hidden’ meaning where there was none in the first place. He is allowed to look for ‘hidden meaning, by the way, but YOU are not. If you try looking for any ‘hidden meaning,’ even if it IS ‘hidden,’ that will be considered a ‘sign’ of psychosis and it will be suggested to you that you need more drugs to calm you down and make you stop that. It is also possible that your consciously directed metaphors will be assumed to be psychotic utterances when they aren’t since that is what happens when we ARE driven into psychosis which you will find out if you really are. Also, psychiatrists do not believe these metaphors have any real meaning, either as literal or symbolic, truth so it is pretty hard to penetrate this belief no matter which way it is for you. They are pretty much psychologically deaf to this either way. All of these ‘signs’ of course are WHY you need their ‘help.’ You see and hear things that they don’t and since they are experts and you are not they must be right and they don’t doubt that for a second. They are all your ‘superiors’ and you have to KNOW that if you are going to deal with their reality. This is why many patients finally get the idea that in order to get less ‘help’ they need to start ‘seeing’ what the doctor sees so he will believe he is making some great progress. If you can manage to let him know you now see the ‘error’ of your ways, especially that blaming ‘others’ thing, that sometimes works though you may have to sacrifice some of your integrity for it. It depends on the situation you are in as an individual what is most needed for you.

Psychiatry will usually do one of three things when relating to you.

1. They will tell you outright that your truth has an alternate meaning which will be defined ‘correctly’ by them and not you.

2. When you talk to them about what is really happening to you they won’t respond to it at ALL as they don’t want to ‘encourage you.’ (In your delusions)

3. Most often, they will ‘appear’ to be listening to you and even to empathize (though often the affect they display will be inappropriate such as bizarre smiling while you tell them your abuse story) and they will make you believe you are really getting somewhere when in fact, you aren’t being heard at all. They will ‘humour’ delusional you because they were taught in university that they cannot argue with a ‘delusional’ patient so they consider debate to be a waste of their time. This ‘humouring’ is not done out of a lack of respect for you as a person since they don’t even see you as an ordinary person, but because you are thought to be a hopeless mental case incapable of holding a rational thought. It does not occur to them that you are aware of their duplicity and that this non stop contradiction and lack of genuine, direct relating is a large part of what disconnected you from concrete reality in the first place. You will find yourself wondering very often as youy attempt to connect to them, ïs THIS one of the times my doctor actually believes me? Or is it one of the times he is 'humouring'me because he believes that I believe what I am saying, even though he is sure it is nonsense? lf they don’t know that you see their duplicity it is because they cannot see or hear you in any terms other than the ones in which they have been taught to do that. It is very much like talking to cult members and you may even benefit from studying how cult members think as it will help you to understand you doctor.

Now that you are labelled and under the control of psychiatry, you as ‘the perpetual patient’ may now do the following:

You can ‘admit’ you are crazy and accept your losses along with the diagnostic label. (Be a ‘good’ compliant patient)
You may deny you are crazy and show your anger and fear about being labelled this way. (Bad patient. Here comes the possibility of forced drugging and perhaps a little E.C. T. for chronic you. They must make you give up these ‘delusions’ of normality)
You can continue to try to tell psychiatry the truth they don’t want to hear until finally enough time passes to allow them to take action against you as you have become ‘intractable.’ (entrenched delusions) The passing of a certain amount of time without any resolution will be said to be an example of YOUR refusal to face reality and sometimes you will get added to your 'symptoms' the idea that you are now ‘obsessing.' Though they kept telling you, you must ‘let it go’ and ‘not blame others’ you would not listen. You may even find yourself being used as an example of how impossible it is to talk to psychiatric patients. Many of us have been used this way for teaching purposes. Often this is done under another name so that there is no actual contact with the identified patient. This distance is required when treating people as disease processes.
In very, very rare cases, you might try finding concrete proof that your ‘delusions’ are in fact, reality, but then you will have to try to get them to actually LOOK at that, and this could be a major effort in itself as they will tell you they ‘don’t have time.’ They may seem to have an extraordinary amount of time to spend telling you that you are crazy, but very little time to actually look at any proof that involves them perhaps, having to admit, that they are wrong about anything as it is simply not done. After all it's not REALLY like being diagnosed with diabetes and given insulin for no reason. There are no medical tests involved at all generally. It is a diagnosis based on abstract thought only. Lawyers and investigative reporters may be required to give your doctors 'personal ‘messages’ off the radio and TV. Resolution, even with actual evidence, often ONLY comes if the profession is shamed and embarrasses in public. The three motivating factors that matter to them the most are money, politics and appearances.

Beyond this, you may find that you are going to HAVE to make a career out of being ‘mad’ so I would suggest you get together with all the rest of us who are already making a career out of it , whether it was actually the career of choice or not, and learn the ropes so you can keep yourself as safe as possible while fighting all the ‘help.’ Also you will need some new friends and family members since none of them can actually hear you anymore either after having been trained by psychiatrists to hear what you say in these new terms. You will find that your relationships change profoundly and not for the better. Many of them will simply end. Don't worry though as the fault will only be found to be in your new 'disease’ and not in any of the other people who can never be blamed or have any error found to be in them. It may help if you learn to accept all of this like a ''calling,'' like to the priesthood for example. Take your vow of poverty; join those of like minds fighting the ''heathens'' of the Psychiatric Faith, knowing that there is going to be a lot of suffering that can’t be avoided.

It is all too true that many of us are, indeed, ‘chosen’ for this role, whether we like it or not. The best thing we can do under such circumstance may be to join with the others and end our isolation. It’s like a new ''family'' emerges from the ashes of the old relationships. Having been forced into an alternate reality, we can now connect to others who were pushed into it before us, and who are now there waiting for us to soothe us from the incredible shock of the whole thing. It is the end of our psychiatric innocence but as with the ending of other forms of innocence, we can emerge from this stronger and more capable than we were before and with something quite valuable to offer others like us who feel as desperate as we once did ourselves.

In a short time, those who did the pushing may well find that they have driven so many of us into this ‘other’ society that we have outnumbered them. I wonder what they are going to do after they have forced so many of us out of their society that there is no one left to do the work of controlling the defectives? Who will be left to follow us around checking to see if we are all smiling enough and forcing the pills down the throats of all the people who continue to whine bitch and complain despite all their best efforts to stop us?

It is something to think about but I am sure that all of the sane people will get together and come up with some new way to keep the up the illusion that they have the whole world under control and keep all of us collecting our disability pensions, since we are all too stupid or too dangerous to work or be around 'normal' people.

Sometimes tough I can't help but wonder if this total power and control idea they are promoting isn’t just a little bit of a grandiose delusion itself, don't you? Of course, I am no expert on these things; I'm just nuts, so what would I know?

1 comment:

Mark said...

Loved your writing. I agree and coincidentally just wrote something similar.